Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hampton Youth in Government Day

This post was written by Girl Scout Senior Ashleigh, a member of Troop 1289 in Hampton.

On April 22,  I had the opportunity to participate in the City of Hampton's Youth in Government Day. The day started at City Council, where Ms. Katherine Glass, clerk of council, welcomed 30 high school Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from the Peninsula. We were also welcomed by Mayor George Wallace, and he proudly announced that Hampton has been bestowed All-America City for three years consecutively. Every year, Ms. Glass and her staff come up with creative and thought-provoking activities for us.

"I have always been a strong supporter of these programs because it connects our most promising and important rising young citizens with the inner works of our city," Ms. Glass told us.

The day's activities began with Mr. Brian DeProfio, director of budget and strategic initiatives, giving us a brief on how city council and staff members determine the annual budget and project considerations. We then participated in Operation Shark Tank, where project managers gave us presentations for us to consider sponsoring. Every Girl Scout and Boy Scout there was given an electronic voting gadget and our votes were cast instantly on a screen. We then reversed roles and were randomly chosen to represent council members and stage a mock council meeting. Through this process, we experienced how intricate the task is to satisfy the needs of the people and how budget constraints affect decisions.

By noon, we traveled from City Hall to meet Two-Hawk, our tour guide at the Hampton History Museum. He shared his family background, cultural experiences and impressive beadwork. Then, we made our own bead bracelets to bring home. We visited Blackbeard's Point and learned about the significance of pirates in Hampton. We also stopped by the Emancipation Oak at Hampton University and took a break on the lawn to hear a live reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Hampton Youth in Government Day is an essential program to me because it gives us knowledge of our state. Many people don't understand that Virginia is an important place in history. The day gives us a learning experience that everyone should encounter at one point in their lives, whether it will be school, work or Girl Scouts. History can be boring when you just sit at a desk and take notes on things that don't involve you, but on this particular day, they make it fun and exciting.

I applaud city council for promoting programs that are hands-on, educational and keep future young voters aware of the issues that affects our lives on a daily basis. We can make a difference if we are aware of what to change.